As the holiday season approaches, again we are faced with so many choices. Decisions about what to wear to the holiday banquet, what to buy our mother for Christmas, what days the children be out of school and how much to spend for presents. It appears the more decisions that need to be made, the higher the level of stress there is put upon a person. Everywhere I go, people complain of the stress of the holidays. Tempers shorten, blood pressures rise and attitudes diminish as the final month of the year approaches. I have come to the conclusion that it might be lack of tradition in everyone’s lives.Tradition, the infamous word that Tevye sang about continuously in the musical “Fiddler On The Roof.” He contests that no matter where you are, or what situation you are in, if you stick with tradition, things will be al right. I tend to agree with that theory as I have moved several times as a single mother, but my children always knew what we were doing for the holidays.There was never a question as to if we were going to church Christmas Eve, or opening presents Christmas morning. It was set in stone that anyone who wanted to see us was required to come to our house. It is a given that I will always prepare enough food to feed an army over Christmas, and anyone with a sweet tooth will definitely be satisfied.Tradition is a comfort for all in knowing that things will always be the same, year after year. We all have some traditions that we stick with, turkey or ham at Thanksgiving. The Macys Day parade directly following so those who have overindulged can catch a nap. In the back den the Dallas Cowboys are on the little television…I’m sure the players’ families wish that were one tradition that could be changed. Following that there will be continuous grazing at the dinner table until it’s time for cold turkey sandwiches. Most of the adults will not be hungry but continue to eat.The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally known as the biggest shopping day of the year. I attempted to join that tradition, one year, just to fit in with the crowd, but ended up trampled in the crowd. The madness, the greed, the overbearing people who were out to take advantage of the “sales” apparently did not realize there was an entire month left before their purchases had to be made. Continuing with shopping on Black Friday was a tradition I didn’t care to continue with, so I created my own. That is now the day I mail out all my Christmas cards. It’s much more productive and the only injury I might sustain is a papercut.As the month of December rolls by, my traditions continue with baking of cookies, bars, bread and candy. Knowing my customs, my friends all expect edible gifts from me. It is fun for me to be creative in my baking, yet, reduces the amount of stress in contemplating purchases from department stores. The children traditionally participate in the wrapping of the gifts. They pick out the containers, ribbons and affix the labels to the packages. This is a family project that brings us closer as we normally have holiday music on throughout the house.The house. Tradition has it that we have the most lit up house in the neighborhood. It is a quest, a mission, and a goal of the family to double the normal electric bill just to prove we have the most lights. My husband starts untangling the massive amounts of strings sometime in November and eventually gets them on the house at the beginning of December. The tree isn’t even as big an ordeal as the lighting of the house. Throughout the house hang bells, wreaths, holly and decorations, all with a story behind them. Every child remembers something about an ornament; it is a practice that we recall the history of each special ornament as it gets hung on the tree.Although changes occur in families, losses, gains or relocations, it is always a comfort to hold on to as many traditions as possible. It sets a mind at ease. It will comfort a child and build wonderful memories of holiday customs. Knowing what to expect will bring about contentment within an otherwise frazzled family. The holiday season is to be enjoyed by all, experienced by all and remembered by all. Instilling wholesome traditions within a family will create cheer and harmony amongst everyone. Yes, there will still be stress, but at least one will know traditionally what (or whom) is the cause of it.

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